Day 15 - Sunday, December 12, 1999

Cueva de los PecesTwenty dollars for two cups of café cubano. I know the barkeeper at the Restaurante El Cenote is kidding me; he is just testing my command of Spanish and to his surprise I can actually understand him. As a side effect of the regular visits of groups of tourists to this place, he has picked up on some basic English, German, and French. Apparently, the restaurant owners have quickly adapted to the ways of capitalism as well since they are now charging a US$1 admittance fee to visit the 70 meter deep Cueva de los Peces.

Welcome to Playa Girón...To those who diedObviously, it's no coincidence that the large tourist resort at Playa Girón is located at the invasion site. The events that took place during the invasion are shown in very much detail in the nearby Museo Girón. To me the most impressive items are the showcases where personal belongings of men who died in action are on display. A burnt identity card; a shirt and pants with rents caused by shell splinters, blood-stained clothes; it all makes for a very graphic way of showing what went on. The general message is of course that of a shameless US imperialist attack against an autonomous country being repulsed.

Fish, shrimps, lobster, and, yes, cocodrilo meat. Local paladar menu. I decide to take a look at the Criadero de Cocodrilos in Boca de Guamá myself. The crocodile farm makes for a nice sight, but what really amazes and slightly annoys me is the ridiculous number of souvenir shops, most of which are selling the same kind of T-shirts, wooden sculptures and what have you. When I enter a shop one assistant is behind the counter and another one sits next to the door. Judging by the looks on their faces, both ladies are really glad to be having this job but when I tell one of them I am looking for a bandera Cubana, it seems like they suddenly wake up from a bad dream. A beautiful smile breaks through and they are most helpful in telling me which shop to try. Unfortunately, it is closed this Sunday afternoon. Oh well, you can't have it all...

Cuban national TV. A lot of people have gathered to...I don't really know. I see a stage where officials, musicians, people from the military and even a little school girl in her red-and-white uniform are crying out loud to the crowd. Something about a boy who is being held in the United States. A sign reads Liberen a Elián. They all express their aversion from imperialism, praise Fidel Castro Ruz from the bottom of their hearts and end their speeches with

ˇPatria o muerte!

ˇSocialismo o muerte!

ˇVenceremos!

Now, I must admit I am not sure why these people have come together, and I believe everyone is entitled to an opinion, but the sight of an eight or nine-year old school girl shouting these catchwords to the crowd fills me with disgust.